Ace's Other Guitars & Gear

   What led me into writing this chapter and something I've always found very interesting is the story that Ace auditioned for Kiss, using a Gibson Firebird. Ace's recount of this story, as told in his autobigraphy, No Regrets, states the guitar was his. However, I have NEVER come across any pictures of Ace playing a Firebird, of any vintage. I'm not saying I don't believe the story to be true, but I can't find any photographic evidence to back it up.
   I'm not going to go into too much 'detail' about these other guitars and this is simply because of the fantastic body of work contained in the website Axeology.com. If you want to know ANYTHING about the various guitars Kiss used over the years, Axeology.com is where you're going to find it !!!
   If we can go right back to Kiss' first album, you'll see that Ace used an Ovation Breadwinner model guitar, for a good portion of that record. There is also a shot of Ace with a Fender Telecaster Deluxe, taken in Bell Sound Studios , in New York City, during the same period. I don't believe the Telecaster belonged to Ace; as most recording studios will have their own collection of guitars, for the artists to use, if the producer is looking for a specific sound, that the artists usual guitar, can't deliver. In any event, here's a very high level view of some of those other guitars ...
November 23, 1968 -
The Stone Pony, New Jersey
The Zim-Gar Electric guitar. I base my thinking of this being the Zim-Gar on the shape of the headstock of this guitar, I'm 99% sure it is Ace's first electric guitar, that his Dad bought him for Christmas, when he was 13 years old.
April 27, 1972 -
Ace's 21st Birthday, The Bronx, NY
This is a late 60's Guild D-40 acoustic guitar. Possibly the one that belonged to his brother, Charlie.
1968 or 1969 -
Jamming with the band Honey
An Epiphone Coronet with the "Batwing" headstock and a single pickup.
Fall 1973 -
Bell Sound Studios, New York City, NY
The Ovation Breadwinner taking on the bulk of the recording workload, for Kiss' first album
Fall 1973 -
Bell Sound Studios, New York City, NY
A Fender Telecaster Deluxe that most likely belonged to the studio
and not Ace
Ace's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitarAce's 1975 Travis Bean TB100S guitar
Travis Bean TB100S Guitar -
Designed by Clifford Travis Bean, Marc McElwee & Gary Kramer (who went on to form Kramer guitars in 1975).
These guitars featured Koa wood 'wings' with a machined alumnum neck that ran right through the body.
Humbucker pickups were mounted to/in the aluminum. As I mentioned above, the issue with these guitars was that the aluminum neck was horrible for touring musicians and didn't handle the cold temperatures very well.
The Veleno Original Guitar -
The Veleno guitars were built in St. Petersburgh, Florida beginning in 1974. Their claim to fame was an "Almag 35" neck that "was not subject to change due to humidity or temperature" and a body "machined from 2 solid aircraft structural aluminum blocks". The theory of the aluminum body was that it was shielded from any/all outside, electrical interference.
** The above pictures are the property of Bill Baker & The Ace Frehley Archive and are used by permission
  The Ibanez 2459

   There has been a lot of debate, over the years about the make of the "Explorer(s)" that Ace used in the '70's. Were they Gibson or Ibanez ? The answer is ... Both !! Well, kind of ...
   In the 1970's, Ibanez was building guitars that were exact duplicates, in every way possible, to the higher-end Gibson and Fender guitars. Today, they are most commonly referred to as the Ibanez "Lawsuit" guitars. Ibanez was sued by Gibson and Fender and had to stop producing the guitar models in question.
   Ace's "Explorer", in the mid-1970's, was in fact an Ibanez model 2459, that Paul Stanley gave him at some point in the Spring of 1976. Although there aren't many pictures of Paul with this guitar, there is one dated as 28Mar76, from Springfield, MA. It is clear from that picture that Paul had removed the stock Ibanez "Super 70 Anti-Hum" pickups and replaced them with double creme DiMarzio pickups ... probably DP103 PAFs ... and also replaced the stock  Ibanez bridge, which was similar to a Gibson ABR-1, with either an Ibanez or a Schaller "Harmonica" Bridge ... Ibanez had their own "Harmonica" bridge in the '70s too. The guitar is seen regularly in Ace's hands by the time the Alive! tour hit Europe, in May of 1976. In fact, it could be argued (based on the photographic evidence) that for the European tour of '76, at least, the Ibanez Model 2459 had become Ace's #1 guitar.
   In speaking about this guitar, Ace has said he loved the grain of the wood it was made from, which according to Ibanez records was a wood called Sen, which is a Japanese Ash. He also covered the name on the head of the guitar (or maybe Paul had done that when he used the guitar) with a small piece of black tape ... which was a common practice for Paul and Gene with all their guitars, for many, many years, although Ace usually never did the same on his Gibsons.
   As I mentioned in the "History 1976 to 1977" chapter, the Explorer that Ace used on the Paul Lynde Show's Halloween Special, in October 1976, was a real Explorer that Gibson provided for the show. In fact, Paul and Gene were also using Gibson instruments for the show, giving Gibson some very extensive (and expensive) TV exposure, at very little cost to them. To the best of my knowledge, Ace was never seen using that Gibson Explorer again.
   Although I'm not 100% sure, it is believed that Ace's Ibanez 2459 is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe, in Singapore.
Paul Stanley with the Ibanez 2459 on 28Mar76, in Springfield, MA.Ace with the Ibanez 2459 on 22May76, in Paris, France.28May76 in Stockholm, Sweden29May76 in Copenhagen, Denmark29May76 in Copenhagen, Denmark
The Ibanez Model 2459/Destroyer/Explorer -
In the early summer of 1976 while touring Europe, this was easily Ace's #1 guitar
10Jul76 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ10Jul76 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ06Sep76 Varsity Stadium, Toronto, ON
The Ibanez Model 2459/Destroyer/Explorer -
Still seeing heavy use during both the Destroyer and
Rock And Roll Over tours
20Oct76 ABC Studios, Hollywood, CA20Oct76 ABC Studios, Hollywood, CA20Oct76 ABC Studios, Hollywood, CA
The Gibson Explorer -
20Oct76 - ABC Studios, Hollywood, CA
As seen by millions on ABC's,
The Paul Lynde Show's Halloween Special
Clearly NOT the same guitar as the Ibanez 2459
1976 Ibanez 2459 CatalogSample - not Ace's guitarSample - not Ace's guitar1976 Ibanez Model 2459 - showing the stock, ABR-1 style bridge1976 Ibanez Model 24591976 Ibanez Model 24591976 Ibanez Model 2459
The Ibanez Model 2459/Destroyer/Explorer -
These are NOT Ace's guitar.
**Photos used courtesy of The Destroyer Guy
   The Greco guitars

   Kiss' popularity grew to a larger-than-life proportion, in the mid to late-1970s and as you can imagine, that led to guitar manufacturers from all over the world wanting to have Ace, Paul or Gene use their guitars. One of the first times this occurred was during their first tour of Japan, in the late winter/early spring of 1977.
   Of all the guitar manufacturers that came calling, it seems that only Greco had what it took for Ace and Paul to use the guitars on stage. ** It is my suspicion that the Greco guitars were only ever used for the dress rehearsal and photoshoot, that was done in Osaka, Japan on 23Mar77 and they were not used for any live shows, during the tour. But, I can't be certain, one way or the other. ** During that first Japanese tour, Ace and Paul both tried out the Greco MR-1000 model on stage. Both guitars featured a wrap-around bridge as compared to the more typical bridge and stop-bar, along with full-sized humbucker pickups. From the photographic evidence, it looks asthough both Ace and Paul replaced at least one of the pickups in each of their guitars with DiMarzio Super Distortion and/or DiMarzio PAF pickups. In terms of the woods used to build them, the MR-1000s were pretty much the same as a Gibson Les Paul ... mahogany body, maple cap/top, 3-piece maple neck and an ebony fingerboard. Interestingly enough, the "MR" seems to have stood for Mick Ralphs, the guitar player for the bands Mott The Hoople and Bad Company.


























   In March of 1978, almost to the day, Kiss would return to Japan. But, this time they would only play in Tokyo, at the legendary Budokan Hall. And once again, Ace, at least, was courted by Greco guitars. This time he was presented with a new model ... the AK-1400, which was seemingly an exclusive model built for a music store called Music Land Key. For the most part, the only flying V-type models that Greco built were simply called FV900s or FV600s. The guitar Ace was presented with was the same shape and size as one of Gibson's Flying V models, but was made out of mahogany and walnut with an ebony fingerboard featuring the word "Freedom" for some of the inlays and a natural wood finish. ** In looking through the old Greco catalogs, their guitars very clearly seem to be the predecessors to the guitars Ibanez would put out, in the early 1980s ... I was teenage guitar player at that time and I remember the Ibanez models well. ** Regardless of any of this, once again Ace would never use this guitar outside of Japan.









   During Ace's last few years with Kiss and his early years on his own, with Frehley's Comet, he really stepped out of his guitar-comfort zone and had some crazy stuff. In my opinion, I'm glad that some of these guitars didn't last and that Ace went back to his Les Paul, despite what the 'trendy' guitars of the time were.
1977 Greco MR1000 Guitars -
These are the same models that Ace and Paul would have used in Japan, in 1977.
Ace's was a Cherry Burst finish and Paul's was Wine Red finish.
1977 Grecos in Japan - MR10001977 Grecos in Japan - MR10001977 Grecos in Japan - MR10001977 Grecos in Japan - MR10001977 Grecos in Japan - MR1000
Ace's actual 1978 Greco AK1400 Flying V guitarThe Greco AK1400 performs live, in Japan, 31Mar78The Greco AK1400 performs live, in Japan, 31Mar78The Greco AK1400 performs live, in Japan, 31Mar78A 1978 Greco AK1400 Flying V guitar, without the "Freedom" inlay on the fingerboard A Japanese guitar magazine ad, for Ace and Paul's guitars
Japan - April, 1978
The Greco AK-1400 "Freedom" Flying V
1981
The Krundaal Davoli Bikini
1981
The Yamaha Cutlass acoustic
1984
The Roland G-707 Synth guitar
1986
The Japanese made Washburn AF40V
The Washburn AF40V Gallery

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